- 0452Z 22868kHz Rescue932 (Chinese IL-76) calls Canberra Control and reports something at time ??50Z. It may be an ops normal at 0450Z or it could be an “on task” or “off task” message. Looking at the AMSA schedule for the IL-76 it may well be an “on task” message as they departed YPPH at 9am local and it is now 1pm local.
- 0458Z 22868kHz Canberra Control relays one message from AMSA to Rescue795 (RAAF P3) “stay on station until PLE, over”. Rescue795 is not heard
- 0501Z 22868kHz Rescue993 (assume Japanese Coastguard Jet) reports 0500Z position 29 57S 105 46E FL380 estimate search are 0620 operations normal
- 0632Z 22868kHz Rescue795 reports ops normal and position 32 33S 0?????E, completed task track now doing F24 reverse track/ Canberra Control reports “Good copy, over”
- 0633Z 22868kHz Rescue932 reports 31 05S 101 55E FL205 time 0630Z ops normal and estimate ????? area 0730Z. Canberra Control says “say again your last”!
- 0856Z 22868kHz Rescue975 who is weak and barely readable calls Canberra Control and Canberra Control replies that flight guard cancelled at 0855 indicating that the RAAF P3 has returned to Perth
- 0908Z 22868kHz Rescue932 reports a time of 0840Z and then a position of 29 59.9S 092 52.7E but I’m not sure if they are connected. The signal then fades and Canberra Control just replies “roger, over”. Whoever teaches voice procedure to the RAAF P3 crews should look at their practice and ask if it is the best for joint or international coordination.
- 0914Z 8867kHz LAN801 (SCL-AKL) calls Auckland who replies “good morning, continue on CPDLC secondary is 5643, SELCAL check”
Here are some of my observations and questions:
Flight MAS370 “disappeared” just after waypoint IGARI having made a right turn onto airway M765 to waypoint BIDOT. While I’m not familiar with the communications method on these sectors I’m assuming that eithe Malysian or Singaporean ATC would have instructed the flight to contact Ho Chi Minh (Vietnamese) ATC at the boundary between the two IFR’s. This would then tie in the reports from Malaysian officials about the last words from MAS370 “alright, good night”. Interestingly there’s no context mentioned for these last words, was it in response to “contact xxxx ATC at position xxxx” or some other instruction?
The Mode-S transponder ceased transmitting about the same time as it crossed into Vietnamese airspace but at that time the aircraft was on track to it’s next scheduled waypoint of BIDOT and on the correct airway.
ACARS data is transmitted automatically and is directed off the communications circuit (VHF or Satellite) onto one of two networks, one owned and operated by SITA and one owned and operated by ARINC. Messages are then routed to various end users such as ATSU’s (Air Traffic Service providers), the airline, engine manufacturers etc. Neither of these organisations have come forward with details of any ACARS messages received on their networks.
With some conflicting reports about ACARS messages still being received hours after the last communications and physical contact it would appear that if the aircraft’s Mode-S transponder was turned off on purpose it would infer that these individuals would not be smart enough or know enough to turn off the ACARS system in order to cloak the whereabouts of the plane. Assumption: Mode-S fails, ACARS continues then not likely to be a pilot or airline technical employee tampering with the flight.
If there were anything untoward happening on the aircraft such as hijacking or act of terrorism my inclination would be to get on my mobile phone and try calling someone. In the middle of the ocean of course you’d get no signal but if the aircraft was diverted off it’s track and over land then I’d be trying like hell to call someone.
What happened after position IGARI is the mystery.
Questions, I have the following that I would ask officials:
- To Vietnames ATC: Was there any attempt to communicate with MAS370 at the FIR boundary and were they expecting the flight to call? Do they have primary radar that covers the waypoint BIDOT at FL350? If so what did that show at the time?
- To Malaysian Airlines: Do you store ACARS messages? If so have these been searched? They are pretty standard and every airline would use the data for engineering analysis.
- To Malaysian ATC: Was the flight plan for MAS360 a stock standard or was there some point of difference from all other plans for this flight . Which primary radars cover waypoint IGARI at FL350?
- To ARINC and SITA: Have you trawled your servers for ACARS messages from this flight?
- To US Intelligence agencies: What was heard by your SIGINT satellites on the cell phone frequencies and ACARS VHF frequencies?
I find it very hard to understand why ministers, marshals , generals and admirals are all seen in PR footage aboard their planes and ships where in any other situation they would be in an operations room planning searches and running investigations rather than being involved in searching.
I’m now reading rubbish from the US and Malaysian authorities on these things called “pings”. The media report officials talking about ACARS “pings”! ACARS are messages, they identify who the message is to go to, they identify who the message is from and in particular the flight number and the aircraft registration. They also identify the system that sends the message, whether it is the cockpit unit i.e. the pilots, automatic engine data, the flight management computers or the logistics system etc. They are not a faint “blip” in anyone’s system, they are messages with to/from and content.Read More